Wednesday, December 31, 2008


December 31, 2008

By Kardash Onnig

Dear friends,

You’ve heard the refrain: “Why didn’t someone stop the Nazis before they unleashed their barbarism upon the world?”

That question is as ever relevant today, except that it should be posed to our own, American, political leadership.

The latest wave of violence in Israel and Gaza brought fresh evidence of the ongoing human tragedy in that part of the world. While the persistence of such events is hardly surprising - considering that the root causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remain woefully unresolved – I, for one, am gripped with a sense of exasperation and sheer rage vis-à-vis America’s flagrant racism. This form of hatred, which is just another brand of anti-Semitism, is directed squarely at Arabs and Muslims, and now it’s being manifested, once again, in America’s response to the tragedy.

For the past 60 years, the American public has been brainwashed into demonizing and ultimately dehumanizing Arabs and Muslims. The propaganda machine has blinded not only the public per se, but also intellectuals and artists. These individuals, who are called to represent the very conscience of the nation, are given to offering some ridiculous justification - by, for instance, blaming “Bush,” the neocons, or Christian fundamentalists - when faced with the reality of our own Guernica: the killing of over one million Arabs/Muslims in the past few years.

No! Let’s stop blaming the Republicans and focus on the “liberal bigots,” as Ralph Nader accurately calls them. It seems that Jesse Jackson’s hope that president-elect Obama would end the hegemony of the Arab- and Muslim-haters and their ilk was misguided by the fact that Obama happens to be black. Obama (I voted for Nader) is no Marin Luther King. He is a Harvard lawyer, and didn’t even wait as long as Bill Clinton had to surround himself with Zionists and sympathizers of America’s racism of choice.

We are complacent, fat with one-man shows, and fat with our egos, which blind us. We were led to believe by Madison Avenue that the word “change” was going to do the trick of saving us from the hate that we have created toward the world in which we live. We were bamboozled. And the show goes on.

What we need is nothing less than a Boston Tea party to rid our hearts of the cancer of racism, just as our forefathers rid the colony of the unjust the British tyrany.

What is the artist’s role in all this? It is “to speak out, to make a clean breast,” writes R. G. Collingwood. “As spokesman for his community, the secrets he must utter are theirs. The reason why they need him is that no community altogether knows its own heart; and by failing of this knowledge a community deceives itself on the one subject concerning which ignorance means death” (The Principles of Art).

Michelle Obama was right when she announced that she was embarrassed to be a citizen of the United States. I, too, am embarrassed, not only by the American public in general but by “friends,” who trivialize the issue by claiming that my “anti-Semitism” is blinding me, just as it had Jimmy Carter, Joseph Campbell, Nietzsche, Wagner, and others.

People tell me it is suicidal for my profession to go against the Zionists. I tell them I must
Live and act according to my frofession…an artist…a spokesperson for my community,
Uttering out loud our secrets and self deceptions.

This letter is my Guernica. Wake up, America.

U.S. Envoy Sees Progress In Armenian Anti-Trafficking Drive

RFE/RL Armenia Report - 12/30/2008

By Emil Danielyan

Armenia has stepped up its fight against human trafficking in the past year and may be removed from a blacklist of countries which the United States believes are not doing enough to address the problem, the U.S. ambassador in Yerevan, Marie Yovanovitch, said on Tuesday.

Since 2005, the U.S. State Department has kept Armenia on the embarrassing `watch list' in its annual reports on cross-border transport and illegal exploitation of human beings around the world. The most recent of those reports, released in June 2008, said the Armenian government still `does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking' despite making `significant efforts to do so.'

In an interview with RFE/RL, Yovanovitch said that the report covered trafficking-related developments in 2007 and that she believes Yerevan has done more to address U.S. concerns in 2008. `I think there is a continuum on the list, and obviously if the State Department decides that Armenia's actions have improved, which I certainly believe that hey have, perhaps Armenia will graduate to a higher level,' she said.

The Armenian government approved in late 2007 its second program of wide-ranging measures against the illegal practice and its most frequent manifestation: the recruitment and transport of women for sexual exploitation abroad. The status of an inter-agency government council coordinating those measures was recently upgraded. The council is now headed by the influential Deputy Prime Minister Armen Gevorgian.

In accordance with the state budget for 2009, the government will for the first time allocate funding for anti-trafficking activities that have until now been financed by the U.S. and other Western governments as well as international organizations. Some of that funding will go to special shelters for trafficking victims opened by two non-governmental organizations in recent years.

Yovanovitch praised these and other government efforts as `really positive' but said more needs to be done to combat what she considers a `terrible crime against humanity.' `The government of Armenia is doing some of the specific actions that they need to take, but ... as long as any individual is trafficked from Armenia, whether it's for labor or sex, clearly any government needs to do more,' she said.

In its 2008 report, the State Department stressed that Yerevan should ensure that convicted traffickers `receive and serve adequate jail sentences.' U.S. officials have complained in the past that Armenian law-enforcement bodies and courts are too lenient toward such individuals.

Yovanovitch noted with satisfaction that the Armenian authorities seem to have gotten tougher on them this year. `When you look at the law-enforcement side of things, I think there have been more convictions this year,' she said. `The sentences have been stronger, commensurate to the crime and they haven't been suspended, which I think is really positive as well.'

`But my understanding is that we are talking about three of four cases. We are not talking about hundreds of cases,' cautioned the ambassador.

According to the Armenian police, 17 persons were prosecuted on trafficking charges during the first ten months of this year, up from ten such cases registered in 2007. The police say ten of those individuals have already been convicted and given prison sentences by local courts.

None of them apparently worked in law-enforcement or other government bodies. Prosecution of state officials `complicit in trafficking' was another major State Department requirement.

Yovanovitch noted in that regard that an indicted Uzbek trafficker managed to flee Armenia in 2006 without a passport and `perhaps with the complicity of government officials.' `That case is being reopened to take a look at who was involved and whether they should be charged with crimes,' she revealed. `And that's very important as well because throughout the world, not just in Armenia, often trafficking happens because law-enforcement officials allow it to happen, because
they profit from it as well.'

The envoy suggested that despite the U.S.-backed government efforts there are few indications yet that the number of Armenians trafficked abroad for forced labor or sex has fallen in recent years. Accordingly, she expressed concern at a decrease in the number of trafficking cases registered by Armenian law-enforcement authorities
in 2008.

`We think that probably it means that there is error in data or that law-enforcement officials are not reporting individuals who were trafficked,' she said. `Perhaps because they don't identify them as people who were trafficked.'

The Armenian government approved earlier this month a `national referral mechanism' which it hopes will make it easier for the police and immigration bodies to identify trafficking victims and redirect them to NGOs dealing with their rehabilitation. One such group, the U.S.-based United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), is to organize training courses for 50 more law-enforcement officers. The UMCOR received a $90,000 U.S. government grant for that purpose on December 8.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Armenia Still On U.S. Trafficking `Watch List' Despite Government Efforts

RFE/RL Armenia Report - 12/24/2008
By Emil Danielyan

Armenia remains on an unflattering `watch list' of countries which the United States believes are a major source of human trafficking more than six years after its government acknowledged the problem and began combating it in earnest.

The Armenian authorities claim to have made considerable progress in cracking down on the practice and its most common manifestation: the transport of women for sexual exploitation abroad. Officials cite a wide range of measures such as the adoption of two government programs, establishment of special anti-trafficking bodies, and a sharp increase in criminal cases against individuals involved in transnational sex trade.

Victims of the prostitution rings can now count on some government assistance and find refuge in special shelters operated by non-governmental organizations as part of anti-trafficking assistance provided to Armenia by international donors. That assistance has also been used for training Armenian law-enforcement officials to prevent, detect and investigate trafficking cases.

Whether these and other measures have actually reduced the number of Armenian women trafficked abroad and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in particular is an open question, however. According to the U.S. State Department, Armenian law-enforcement bodies and courts have so far been quite lenient toward traffickers and corrupt government officials helping them.

`In the past several years the authorities have taken steps to address the problem,' said Marina Solakhian, coordinator of an anti-trafficking project launched by the United Nations Development Program in 2004. `Of course, a lot still needs to be done. But you can't eradicate the problem overnight. More time is needed for achieving and seeing results.'

The problem came to light in 2002 when the U.S. State Department included Armenia into its so-called Tier 3 group of nations which it thinks were doing little to stop human trafficking and could therefore be stripped of U.S. economic assistance. Armenia was removed from the blacklist and upgraded to the Tier 2 category the next year after what the State Department described as `significant efforts' taken by its government. However, the department downgraded the country to a Tier 2 `watch list' in 2005, citing the Armenian authorities' `failure to show evidence of increasing efforts to combat trafficking over the past year.'

Yerevan swiftly responded to the criticism by setting up in late 2002 an inter-agency commission tasked with coordinating a government crackdown on trafficking. In November 2007 then Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian upgraded the commission's status and approved a second program of relevant government actions. In 2003, the Armenian parliament passed a government-drafted amendment to the country's penal code criminalizing `trade in human beings.' The clause was amended in 2006 to toughen punishment for the cross-border transport of persons for sexual exploitation and forced labor. They can now be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.

Also, special anti-trafficking units have been formed within Armenia's police and the Office of the Prosecutor-General. The two law-enforcement agencies have reported a drastic increase in trafficking-related criminal cases opened by them in recent years. Colonel Hunan Poghosian, head of a powerful police department tasked with combating organized crime, announced on December 5 that law-enforcement authorities have prosecuted 17 persons on trafficking charges during the first ten months of this year, up from ten such cases registered in 2007. He said ten of those individuals have already been convicted and given prison sentences by local courts. The police reported only three such convictions in 2007.

Poghosian did not specify the length of those jail terms or say whether there were any government or law-enforcement officials among the convicted individuals. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe concluded in an April 2007 report that only a small number of convicted Armenian traffickers receive serious sentences. This seems a key reason why the U.S. State Department is keeping Armenia on the `watch list' for a fourth consecutive year.

`The Government of Armenia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so,' the department said in its most recent report on human trafficking around the world released in June. It said the government should ensure that convicted traffickers `receive and serve adequate jail sentences' and prosecute `officials complicit in trafficking.'

`Unfortunately, we still don't have a full enforcement of the law,' Dziunik Aghajanian, a senior Armenian Foreign Ministry official involved in the anti-trafficking drive, admitted at a recent seminar in Yerevan. While putting a greater emphasis on the enforcement of laws, the government's current anti-trafficking program contains no specific instructions for law-enforcement bodies to broaden and toughen punishments for the practice.

The State Department report also found no `tangible progress' in government efforts to identify and protect trafficking victims. According to Poghosian, the number of Armenians recognized by the police as victims of human trafficking soared from 12 in 2007 to 37 in January-October 2008. The police official said 20 women have been sent this year to two rehabilitation centers in Yerevan run by the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and an Armenian NGO called Hope and Belief.

The UMCOR shelter was opened in an undisclosed location in Yerevan in 2004 as part of a broader anti-trafficking project launched by the U.S.-based charity. According to Viktoria Avakova, the project coordinator, it has hosted up to 25 women each year, giving them medical, psychological and legal assistance and helping to reintegrate them into what is still a conservative society rarely sympathetic to their suffering. She said many shelter residents are ostracized by their families or are too traumatized to tell the latter about their whereabouts.

`People surrounding them often don't understand what they have gone through, the trauma suffered by them,' Avakova told RFE/RL. `And so they see no way out of this vicious circle.'

`These women were forced into sex slavery,' she said. `They didn't decide how many clients a day they could have. Very often they were not even allowed to leave their rooms. They were deprived of practically all human rights.'

As well as ensuring victims' physical and mental rehabilitation, the UMCOR organizes retraining courses for the mostly unskilled and neducated victims to make it easier for them to find new jobs in Armenia. With unemployment in the country and especially its rural areas remaining widespread, that is a difficult task.

The government's anti-trafficking program also envisages retraining courses and `socioeconomic' programs for the victims. But evidence of their implementation by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and other government agencies has so far been scant. The government for the first time set aside targeted funding for anti-trafficking activities only in its budget for next year approved by parliament last month.

`So far the state has done little to reintegrate victims into society,' the UNDP's Solakhian told RFE/RL. `It is non-governmental organizations that mainly work with victims.' `Besides, there are not many jobs, and employers often refuse to hire women or men recognized as trafficking victims,' she said.

International and local non-governmental organizations funded by Western donors also seem to have been more active than the government in raising public awareness of the problem and even training law-enforcement officers dealing with it. The UMCOR office in Armenia, for example, has a telephone hotline for Armenians planning to work abroad and needing legal counseling. `Our experts explain the dangers involved and how to avoid them,' said Avakova.

The UMCOR received on December 8 a $90,000 U.S. government grant to train 50 more law-enforcement officers to better manage trafficking cases and identify their victims. `Up to 15 police officers will be provided with a follow-up training on recent developments in the anti-trafficking area,' the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan said in a statement.

Experts believe that ultimately the success of these efforts hinges not only on the Armenian government's commitment to combating human trafficking but also the elimination of its underlying socioeconomic causes. `The root causes of the problem -- poverty and unemployment -- are still there,' said Avakova. `As long as they are not addressed, people will believe in false promises of better life.'


Dec 24, 2008

Acts of violence and pressures upon the political activists accused on the March 1 criminal case have become stronger in penitentiary institutions lately. Aram Sargsian, the Chairman of the Hanrapetutiu (Republic) party, Ararat Zurabian, the Board Chairman of the Armenian National Movement party, and Levon Zurabian, the Coordinator of the Armenian National Congress, stated at the December 24 press conference.

According to L. Zurabian, defendant on the "case of the seven" Grigor Voskerchian, opposition activists Ashot Manukian and Armen Khurshudian have been beaten cruelly in their prison cells lately. According to L. Zurabian, the group of masked policemen that had taken part in those prisoners' beating the day before, in the morning of December 24 also appeared in the building of the Nubarashen penitentiary institution, from which ANC members conclude that the wave of violence in the prison will continue.

"The regime has repeatedly proved that it can do any meanness. However, now the authorities have went down and become equal to the lowest immorality scale," L. Zurabian stated. He affirmed that the authorities strengthen pressures upon the opposition, as they are afraid to lose the "case of the seven" in the court. Besides beating, according to him, in order to psychologically affect prisoners law enforcers move them to other cells, where the conditions are worse. In consideration of all this, ANC demands RA Justice Minister Gevorg Danielian's resignation, calls RA Ombudsman for publicizing a special report and the NA Zharangutiun (Heritage) faction for making a proposal to convene a special sitting.


24.12.2008 16:39 GMT+04:00

Azerbaijan is going to launch production of tanks, small arms, armors and noctovision devices next year. The defense potential of the republic will be considerably increased.

Minister of Defense Industry Yaver Jamalov informed that Azerbaijan also plans to produce aviation bombs and pilotless vehicles, ANS TV channel reports.

Monday, December 15, 2008

If the shoe fits, wear it

I am really upset about what happened in Iraq to the outgoing U.S. President George W. Bush.

It seems that a television reporter who has lost family in the Iraqi conflict and recently kidnapped and tourchered, lobbed his shoes at Bush, but missed the target.

In an interview later on, Bush commented on how it was funny and one of the stranger things he has had happen to him.

Bush was uninjured thanks to his natural instinct as a Texan who jumps back when shoeing a horse or dodges flying shoes from his wife Laura.

As for the reporter, he should be hung from the gallows for missing his target twice.

I wonder if at future news conferences they will issue slippers to the attendees?

And since Bush is a Class A moron, this is his reaction to what happened:

"Hero of Artsakh" award is not meant for real heros

It has become a tradition in Artsakh to award medals to those who have and are involved in criminal activity.

The latest recipient of the "Hero of Artsakh" and the Golden Eagle Order is the former President of Artsakh Arkady Ghoukasyan. This is a man who among his larger criminal accomplishments privatized the largest hospital in Armenia for almost nothing with the military prosecutor and the hospital director. A few years ago, President Ghoukasyan awarded his father Doctor Ghoukasyan, a man who was known for starting an operation and when the victim under his care was already cut open, he would ask how much of a bride would be paid.

Our real heroes who gave their lives to liberate our nation are turning in their graves.


Azat Artsakh Daily
12 Dec 08
Republic of Nagorno Karabakh [NKR]

On 10 December NKR President Bako Sahakyan signed a decree according to which for exclusive services to the Nagorno Karabagh Republic and in connection with the anniversary of the adoption of the NKR Constitution, the second President of NKR Arkady Ghoukasyan is awarded with the highest title of the Nagorno Karabagh Republic, the `Hero of Artsakh' and the Golden Eagle Order.

And on this subject over at


Bako Sahakyan signed a decree on awarding the highest title of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic – Hero of Artsakh – and the medal of Golden Eagle to Arkady Ghukasyan, the second president of NKR, on the anniversary of adoption of the NKR Constitution. The relations between Bako Sahakyan and Arkady Ghukasyan could be described as mysterious. One and a half year past the completion of his second term of presidency Arkady Ghukasyan was at last allowed to set up an office in Stepanakert. In addition, the rumors that Arkady Ghukasyan was going to be appointed to one position or another – foreign minister of Armenia, Armenian minister of Diaspora, foreign minister of NKR, director of Armenia Fund – did not come true. Although Ghukasyan was “tried out” for these positions, he is not in business yet. It is not clear why it was necessary to award Arkady Ghukasyab the highest title of Karabakh. There are two options – either the president wants to “rid” of Ghukasyan’s ambitions who is too young to retire or he is being prepared for appointment to another “all-Armenian” post.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Armenian Police Report Surge In Trafficking Convictions

RFE/RL Armenia Report
Friday, 5 December, 2008

By Hovannes Shoghikian

The number of individuals imprisoned in Armenia for human trafficking and officially identified as victims of the illegal practice has more than doubled this year, a senior police official said on Friday.

According to Colonel Hunan Poghosian, head of a feared police department tasked with combating organized crime, Armenian law-enforcement authorities have prosecuted 17 persons on relevant charges during the first ten months of this year, up from ten such cases registered in last year. He said ten of those individuals have already been convicted and given prison sentences by local courts. The police reported only three such convictions in 2007.

Poghosian portrayed the police statistics as further proof of the toughening of the Armenian government's fight against human trafficking. The government launched a new three-year plan of anti-trafficking actions late last year. The Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian also formed a special inter-agency body coordinating the crackdown.

The Armenian authorities began tackling the problem in 2004 under pressure from the United States which has repeatedly described Armenia has a major source of illegal transport of women for sexual exploitation abroad. But despite recent years' government efforts, Armenia remains on a special `watch list' of nations which the U.S. State Department says are not doing enough to combat trafficking.

The police data show the number of mainly female Armenians officially recognized as `victims' of human trafficking soaring from 12 in 2007 to 37 in January-October 2008. Poghosian said 20 women have been sent this year to special rehabilitation centers run by two non-governmental organizations. One woman was repatriated from the United Arab Emirates, the main destination of trafficking victims, with the help of the
Armenian Foreign Ministry, he said.

Poghosian also told reporters that the Armenian police have registered ten trafficking cases, virtually all of them involving sex trade, in the past ten months. Eight of them have already been solved, he said without elaboration.

Armenia primary-source of trafficking

2008-12-05 20:12:00

There are three types of countries for trafficking: primary-source, transit and target, Hunan Poghosyan, Colonel, the head of the Chief Anticrime Department of the Armenian Police, said at the press conference Friday.

He said Armenia is mostly a primary-source country i.e. people leave for other states to earn money through prostitution. However, H. Poghosyan said that unlike other primary-source states, girls and women in Armenia are not procured for prostitution, they, probably, leave on voluntary basis. However, they are subjected to violence in target states where they leave for to earn money through prostitution. The most favorable target states for Armenian prostitutes are Turkey and the UAE, Colonel Poghosyan said.

He also added that only one person arrived in Armenia to earn money through prostitution in 2008. Hence, Armenia was a target-state just in one case. He also added that no case of trafficking in children was registered in the country in 2008.

Friday, December 05, 2008

16:14 02/12/2008

"Armenia considers to be a trafficking born country. Girls and women are taken to Turkey and Arabic United Emirates where they are entrapped into prostitution," said Marina Solakhyan, the coordinator of Struggle against Trafficking UNDP project. According to Solakhyan, there exists another type of trafficking among us - working trafficking, which main direction is in Russia.

One of the reasons of the trafficking is that in transitional countries and in countries which lack stable economy people are looking for ways to find good jobs, she said. According to her people don't verify the information they receive from their friends, neighbors, etc.

In order to escape from such situation, M. Solakhyan said that a job found abroad should be well verified, a written contract or at least written agreement should be made, and the legislation of certain country should be studied. It is important to make copies of documents and to leave one example with relatives, as when abroad in case of trafficking people are taken off their documents just from the airport.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Liberated Territories Can Never be an Object for Mutual Concessions”
[ 28 November 2008 | 12:45 ] politics |

A Hetq Interview with Lernik Hovhannisyan, Secretary of the ARF Artsakh Youth Union

Mr. Hovhannisyan, recently, at the initiative of your organization, youth groups in Artsakh participated in “round table” discussion of the Karabakh issue. What resulted was a condemnation of those statements that “call into question the justice and victory achieved by the blood of thousands of Armenia’s sons”. What was meant by this?

The young people of Artsakh cannot remain indifferent to what is being said in the press and by certain political leaders on the issue. For us, those views, that call for the exchange of Armenian lands for other Armenian lands are unacceptable; for example Shahumyan for Aghdam. Especially when we are talking about returning the liberated territories.

These are historic Armenian lands as witnessed by the city of Tigranakert and the recent discovery of medieval Armenian stone crosses in the Aghdam region. There are other sources that confirm that the liberated territories are Armenian. For instance, there are 17th century Persian sources that speak about the presence of the Armenian Meliks. As a result, we condemn all approaches that assume any change to the territories as set forth in the Constitution of the RMK (Republic of Mountainous Karabakh).

Thankfully, the government of the RMK shares this opinion. We are certain, just as the RMK government is certain, that any attempt to settle the Artsakh conflict without the participation of the RMK is doomed to failure. In other words, Artsakh must have an equal place at the negotiations table and the RMK Foreign Ministry is actively taking steps to achieve such an objective. Proof of this is the fact that the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs, during their last visit, held closed meetings at the RMK National Assembly.

Can we infer from your statement that the people of Artsakh will not accept any agreement that includes a return of various lands?

As an ARF representative let me say that our party has made its position clear on many occasions. The Artsakh Central Committee, and the Supreme Council of Armenian and the ARF Bureau, have stated that there can be no discussion of the return of any lands. This view has also been expressed by the RMK authorities.

But the Armenian side has always noted that the Artsakh conflict must be resolved via mutual concessions. If this is the case what concessions will we grant?

We have already made concessions. First, we agreed to the 1994 ceasefire. Second. The Republic of Armenia has yet to recognize the independence of Artsakh. The liberated territories can never become the object of concessions. We have nothing to return. Furthermore, a portion of the RMK, the region of Getashen, Shahumyan and parts of Martuni and Martakert, remain occupied by Azerbaijan. The issue of their return must be put on the negotiations table as well.

It seems that on an official level we are not making such claims. All the while Azerbaijan comes forth with much stronger demands and our authorities counter this by stating that the conflict must be resolved through concessions on the two sides. In the context of what you stated, doesn’t it appear that the current negotiations that have been going on for years are redundant? Negotiations are always useful but they must continue without any reference to the return of any lands. All of us are aware that if such a thing happens the threat of warfare grows.

What about the international security guarantees that are being discussed?

In any event, the final guarantor of security is our army and this was proved back in March and just recently with the attempted Azeri military incursion. We can agree to the presence of any international force on RMK lands. Yes there will be such pressures brought to bear but we must resist them and build our statehood in unison.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Alek Yenikomshian – “We have liberated our historic lands.”
[ 25 November 2008 | 19:14 ] politics |

An interview with Alek Yenikomshian, a friend of Monte Melkonian and a founder of the “Miatsum Initiative”

Alek, today, November 25th, is the birthday of Monte. You, who knew him for almost 30 years and who is familiar with his views better than most, what do you think Monte’s opinion would have been regarding the political settlement of the Karabakh conflict?

Monte answered this question back then, there are statements he made during interviews where he noted that, “the war will only end with our victory.”

This means that any reconciliation will be signed on the basis of our victory. This is something that I have added. Monte made numerous statements that show that he considered the territories as perpetually Armenian. At the liberation of Karvatchar, during an interview he granted with Dadivank as a backdrop, Monte stated that there are Armenian monasteries all over the place, wherever you travel you come across Armenian settlements and that we haven’t stepped a foot over the boundary of our historic lands…Whatever lands we have taken have been our historic lands. These are just recollections of some of Monte’s sayings.

Here are some more specific quotations from his statements: “We have once again become masters of our homes and lands” (Nor Gyank, USA, July 23, 1993); “We have gone into those areas that have historically been ours. We will be turning the last page of Armenian history if we lose this land” (Artsakh TV interview, October 4, 1992); “This question is an historical one. It is extremely important for our people to reconnect this area (Karvatchar) to Armenia. As you see, wherever you go there are Armenian monasteries, this is Armenian land. Enter any village and you see that this is Armenian land. And it is vitally important to connect these 3,000 square kilometers of land. The liberation of this region will also play a decisive role in the history of Artsakh as well…spiritually, politically, strategically, in all ways. It is very important to gain a victory.” (Interview given on March 29-30, in vicinity of Dadivank, during operations to liberate Karvatchar); “My view is that we must return to the historic borders of Artsakh, by drawing a line from the Araks to the Kur. In this way the defense of our positions will be made much easier because we’ll have natural borders as our defenders, the rivers and mountains. For as long as we have our defensive lines looking like a lace patchwork we will be consumed in defending several fronts simultaneously and will be making the task of the Azeris much easier.” (Les Nouvelles D’Armenie, June-July 1993).

Monte proved that these lands were historic Armenian lands and that we didn’t capture the lands of others. In terms of the defense of security this has been the historic way and it remains so today. The present territories must remain because those same territories insure our security. Otherwise, the borders of the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region, in terms of insuring defensibility, have much to be desired in any number of ways. In other words, there are principled reasons here to exercise the right to historic justice and also in terms of insuring practical defensibility. In my opinion, this would be Monte’s position.

Today, active negotiations are taking place around the issue of mutual concessions. I know that you are personally opposed to mutual concessions in general. However, don’t you think that something can be conceded in the name of peace and in exchange for the recognition of the independence of Artsakh?

I am not alone in thinking that there can be no talk, and shouldn’t be any talk, of mutual concessions when it comes to the issue of the territories. I have noted principled reasons, i.e., that we have regained our former rights. At a minimum we have been losing land for the past 1,000 years and it has only been in this war that we have liberated our historic lands. This fact has great psychological importance – today or the next day, this great leap forward, the first in over 1,000 years, will be reduced to nothing. I can’t picture what type of psychological state of mind an Armenian will find himself in after such a shameless outrage if those lands are returned. What I want to say is that the Armenian spirit would be broken. Here it’s not only a matter of principle but a question of the future. Beside from a purely military issue of defensibility, from a psychological perspective, it would signify “devastation”. Let me restate, after all this, that there can be no talk of land or territory concessions. There were those 14 years, before the truce of 1994, on the Armenian side who were talking about minimal demands in the context of mutual concessions and for them the border line was the self-government of the region; namely the demand that Azerbaijan accept the right of the people of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region to self-determination. And Azerbaijan didn’t accept this. Azerbaijan didn’t even accept this minimal demand when simultaneously the weak Armenian side was ready to give back almost all the territories. But if Azerbaijan hasn’t accepted this minimal demand for 14 years, there is no such mutual concession that is possible to realize. This is a fact. Azerbaijan has shown that it will not accept the minimal demand. If Azerbaijan is confident that it can regain those lands by military means from the hands of the Armenian forces it wouldn’t hesitate doing so for a moment. Thus, if we signed an agreement or not, with or without mutual concessions, Azerbaijan will take that step and will not accept the minimal demand of the Armenian side. Thus, there’s a bit too much importance being given to the concept of mutual concessions. There is no such mutual concession that Azerbaijan will accept and we will not enter into obligations regarding the territories. It is possible to think along other lines.

In your estimation, what issues are the negotiations revolving around? Is there a question about the return of those territories in the negotiations?

From the first days of negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan there was mention made of the territories and that was scandalous. Now they say that the Madrid Principles aren’t known but we all know that in that framework there is mandatory talk about 5, 6 or 7 regions of the territories. No one can say that the first point of the negotiations process isn’t about the return of those territories. I believe this is to be rejected out of hand. Thus, for all this time the negotiations have been revolving around the principle of territorial concessions. Sadly, the official Armenian side has always been ready to go the way of concessions, with the condition that the self-determination of the people of MK (Mountainous Karabakh) be recognized. But aren’t we aware that after the lands are returned Armenians now residing there will leave especially since they won’t feel protected. The same can happen in Zangezour and Syunik and down the line. Any weakness on our part will just lead to larger loses, both territorially and in issues of existence.

Holding on to those territories isn’t an aim in itself. Those lands must be settled by our people and it is just not our just historic right to once again live there. The resettlement of those lands can solve a myriad of other issues. Those territories are some of the best agricultural lands around and we know of the problems faced by our agricultural sector even since Soviet days. These lands could help with managing the size of our agricultural imports. I haven’t yet touched on a very important matter that these territories might solve, the problem of emigration. Where once people moved overseas from our cities, now this trend has reached the villages as well. If there was a serious policy to redirect those people who feel that they can no longer make a living in the villages to these territories in an organized fashion, we could resolve these issues from a demographic viewpoint.

Why hasn’t the problem of resettling the territories yet been resolved?

I am certain it has two main reasons. There is no political will. Those making decisions have yet to do so regarding the resettlement of these territories. They pass decisions to the contrary because they believe that sooner or later these lands will be returned. The other reason is the lack of adequate policy of socio-economic assistance. In other words, those lands are only being employed to ensure the profits of various clans and not for resettlement of people or to ensure those people with a decent lifestyle. Thousands of hectares of land are under the control of a handful of people, they are the master of the land’s fruits. No assistance is given to the people living there and trying to eke out an existence.

And the non-democratic ways continue

There are many reasons not to join Yerevan State Medical University in Armenia.

1) It all starts with a lie of high standard education, while there are no proper arrangements for any sort of practicals, no training, no nothing. You won't get any chance to even feel as a medical student while you are in and not feel a doctor when you graduate.

2) Once you have paid the university expenses, after spending so much to come here, you'll be treated as a dog, yelled upon by dean, higher authorities and nobody to complain too.

3) You will be asked to sign a contract, which is of no use, you are not given any copy of that. And if you oppose in anyway, you will be expelled out showing the contract you signed.

4) The University won't tell you anything about the currency crisis here, you're told to pay in Dollars for the first years, and in Armenian Drams from further years, which is so unstable that you'll be finding yourself to pay double and triple as the years pass on.

5) You will be forced to stay in University hostels which are highly expensive 900 USD approximately in Armenian Drams, per person, and three of the persons will be stuffed in a small room, with your stuff and one of you three sleeps down even after paying!!!

6) You cannot even take a single leave from the classes, even if you are sick, even if you get an accident, your leg brakes, whatever happens. No leave allowed, or you will be expelled. This does not happen in any instituition.

7) Anytime the University administration wants they can make a rule without consultation with any students and always against the students.

8) The exams are so bad here, which teachers themselves can't solve, sometimes mis-translated from Armenian or Russian so that you don't even understand the question and administration doesn't care about it.

9) The people are also becoming aggressive to foreigners here, sometimes some people are looted on streets, kidnapped and beaten up, stabbed with knives and not only this even in everyday life any Armenian will be verbally abusing you calling you by 'names'. Racism is increasing in Armenia.

10) You can be even asked to pay huge amounts of money as visa fee (as in 2008 students were asked to pay around 200 US Dollars stating that they are late to submit documents even though everybody submitted before given date by University...this was shear OPEN DAY ROBBERY), or late fee or some blunder whenever University wants without any warning, etc. Laws are in the hands these people and they exploit them well to harrass and suck money from students.

11) On top of that after spending so many years, spending so much time, money, frustration, students can be denied Degree on the basis on ruthless decisions by authorities.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Friends Visit Grave of Monte Melkonian on 51st Anniversary of his Birthday
[ 25 November 2008 | 14:34 ] society |

Earlier today, a line of friends and acquaintances of Monte Melkonian paid hommage at his grave site located in the Yeraplur Cemetary for fallen national heroes. Those visiting the cemetary included founding members of the Monte Melkonian Fund, students of the military academy and school bearing his name, and those who fought alongside his side. Alek Yenikomshian, one of the founders of the Monte Melkonian Fund and who knew the fallen hero for thirty years reconted that, “It is often said on these occasions that he has not perished. Such words may have an artificial ring to them but this is the case who intimately knew him. He is always with us, always struggling, and it is our obligation to present heroes not only as individuals but to present the essence, the soul of those heroes as well.”

Vahe Shakhmuradyan, a fellow combattant of Monte’s, stated that he thought it was necessary to present the multi-dimensional aspects of the man. Vahe Shakhmuradyan stated that Monte was a sensitive and penchant individual and noted that while he always had high praise for the soldier, he himself found a bit of fault with that and commented, “In my opinion the leader doesn’t belong to him if he is a leader of the people. Monte should have protected himeself as well. We are also guilty that he isn’t here today. We feel his absence today since his demise was a sort of crime.”

Anahit, a pupil of Public School #11 that bears his name, recited the following words of Monte Melkonian, “I am here today because I don’t have the right to be anywhere else. I have taken an oath and I belong to only one man, the free soldier of the homeland. He is the most exemplary of individuals for me since he has resolved to do everything for the homeland.”

Monday, November 24, 2008


We Demand Justice

On November 17, 2008, Mr. Edik Baghdasaryan, a highly respected journalist, Chief Editor of the Armenian daily Hetq (Track) and the President of Investigative Journalists’ Association of Armenia, sustained severe head injuries after being attacked by three assailants as he was leaving his workplace; the attackers also stole Mr. Baghdasaryan's camera. This incident occurred following epeated “warnings” and "threats" received by the Hetq staff.

This assault on Mr. Baghdasaryan highlights a disturbing trend of physical and other violence on Journalists since the February 2008 presidential elections. On August 11, 2008, Ms. Lusineh Barseghian, the correspondent of the Armenian daily Haikakan Zhamanak (Armenian Times), was assaulted and also sustained head injuries outside her home. A week later, Mr. Hrach Melkumian, Acting Head of the Yerevan Office of the Armenian Service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, was also attacked. None of the culprits has been brought to justice. The police is unperturbed at best and appear to be intent on harassing the journalists and their staff. The circumstances related to Mr. Gagik Hovakimian, Ms. Anna Zakharian, Mr. Gagik Shamshian, and Ms. Gohar Vezirian, are all examples of police intimidation, harassment, arbitrary arrest and unlawful detention. Violence against Armenian journalists and their staff seem to be a common-place occurence these days.

We strongly condemn these acts of violence and intimidation, and call upon the authorities to investigate these crimes and persecute the culprits. The international community has also taken note of the frequent violations of basic freedoms of the press. For example, the Paris-based organization, Reporters Without Borders (RWB), has dropped Armenia from 77th to 102nd position on a list of 173 countries ranked by their press freedom. The perception of foreign observers following the beating of Edik Baghdasaryan was succinctly captured in a letter addressed to Mr. Edward Nalbandian, the Foreign Minister of Armenia, by the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Mr. Miklos Haraszti, who wrote: "Violence against journalists is not 'crime as usual', because it undermines a basic institution of democracy - the free press".

We, the undersigned, deplore any undertaking that hampers the growth of democracy. The world will be watching and expecting concrete and prompt action from the authorities in Armenia.

Ani Boghossian BA, Toronto, Canada
Antranig Bedrossian BA, B. Comm. CMA, Montreal, Canada
Aram Adamyan MSc, MBA ACCA, Toronto, Canada
Ardavast Avakian, Boca Raton, Florida, USA
Arsine Attarian, Activist, Montreal, Canada
Artin Boghossian PhD, Toronto, Canada
Artur Gevorgyan MSc MD, Toronto, Canada
Avo Bedrossian MASc., P. Eng., Ottawa, Canada
Berge Minassian MD, FRCP(C), Toronto, Canada
Prof. Davit Zargarian, Ottawa, Canada
Prof. Dennis R. Papazian, USA
Dikran Abrahamian BA, MD, Penetanguishene, Canada
Edgar Manukian PhD, Toronto, Canada
Haig Baltadjian DDS MScD, Montreal, Canada
Haig Misakyan P. Eng., Toronto, Canada
Hagop Sevakian, Management Consultant, Toronto, Canada
Hasmig Kurdian MEd, Toronto, Canada
Kevin McGill, Activist, Canada
Koko Yerevanian P. Eng., California, USA
Nader Rastegar MBA, London, United Kingdom
Ohannes Hagopian PhD, Ridgewood NJ, USA
Raffi Chitilian B. Eng., Montreal, Canada
Rita Charchyan, Toronto, Canada
Ruth Cooper BSW (Hons.) RSW, Waubaushene, Canada
Shirley Fersch RPN, Penetanguishene, Canada
Unus Ali BA, Midland, Canada
Vigen Ghazarian CFA, Toronto, Canada
Viken L. Attarian P. Eng. MSc MBA, Montreal, Canada
Virginia Misakyan B. Comm., Toronto, Canada

Copies of this document will be forwarded to the Catholicosates in Etchmiadzin and Antelias, Honourable Edward Nalbandian (Foreign Minister of Armenia), Honourable Hranush Hacobyan (Minister of Diaspora), Mr. Armen Harutyunyan (the Ombudsman and Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Armenia), PEN Canada, PEN International, Journalists for Human Rights, and other Human Rights organizations. The initiators would appreciate your endorsement if you are agreeable with the content of the text. Please submit your details at We Demand Justice.

Serzh Sargsyan scared the people of Artsakh [Karabakh]?

Aravot, Armenia
Nov 20 2008

During his recent visit to Karabakh [Armenian President] Serzh Sargsyan surprised the local population, particularly by the unprecedented security measures. Quoting his sources in Karabakh, Aleksandr Kananyan, a member of the Miatsum National Initiative [which calls for Nagornyy Karabakh's unification with Armenia], said this yesterday [19 November] in the Urbat [Friday] discussion club.

He said that the life in Stepanakert [the capital of Karabakh] was paralysed on those days, and citizens, who could not get to their workplaces [due to the security measures], were surprised, saying: "Why is Serzh Sargsyan so afraid? He is among his compatriots."

According to Mr Kananyan's reliable information, Serzh Sargsyan had "a secret meeting behind the closed doors with the Nagornyy Karabakh leadership and top brass, during which he said in an unquestioning tone that he had decided to resolve the Karabakh issue. The settlement will be according to the Madrid principles; the Armenian troops will leave five territories [Azerbaijani districts adjacent to Karabakh], then a referendum will be held on the status [of Karabakh] two years later, and afterwards Kalbacar) [an Armenian-controlled Azerbaijani district in between Armenia and Nagornyy Karabakh] will also be ceded to Azerbaijan. This is a new idea."

According to the speaker [Kananyan], attempts are already being made to disseminate this approach among the population of Karabakh via police and village leaders, "impressing them that in case they do not agree to this, they will again turn out to be at war." Kananyan hopes that the people of Karabakh will not fall into this delusion, because they realize very well that the probability of a war would be high if such a settlement plan [is approved]. As a result of this plan, in fact, Azerbaijan would get a positional strategic advantage. Kananyan is sure that there is no foreign pressure upon the Armenian government and the Armenian government goes for the existing settlement option voluntarily - being guided not by national but by its own business interests.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


By Lena Nazarian

Institute for War and Peace Reporting
Nov 20 2008

Seventh attack on independent journalist in Armenia this year sparks freedom of speech fears.

Armenia's leading investigative journalist Edik Baghdasarian is in hospital after an unprovoked assault in the street that has caused alarm over the safety of independent reporters in the country.

At around 8 pm on the evening of November 17 in the centre of Yerevan, three assailants attacked Baghdasarian, who is head of Armenia's Association of Investigative Journalists and the editor-in-chief of, a weekly Internet bulletin. While two of them struggled with him, the third beat him on the head. They tore his clothes and snatched his camera.

An ambulance and one policeman arrived on the scene. Baghdasarian was taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with severe concussion.

Baghdasarian is well-known in Armenia and has been awarded international prizes for ceaselessly investigating official abuses of power and corruption. His most recent article on is about an iron-ore mine in the town of Hrazdan, although there has been no suggestion that this report, rather than any other, was the reason
for the assault.

Observers of the Armenian media say his beating is part of a worrying trend this year in which seven reporters have been attacked but none of the assailants have so far been brought to justice.

Gagik Shamshian, a photo-correspondent with the opposition newspaper Fourth Estate, is one of them and blames the authorities for not investigating the attack on him properly. "If they wanted to they could have identified the culprits long ago," he said.

Shamshian said he was attacked and had his mobile phone and dictaphone stolen when a Mercedes blocked his path and he was forced to the ground. He escaped by running out into the traffic.

Shamshian said that he identified amongst his attackers three men about whom he had written an article in his newspaper but, despite his testimony to the police, no one has so far been charged with the assault on him.

In October, the editor-in-chief of the opposition newspaper Haikakan Zhamanak, Lusine Barseghian, was beaten on the head by two men.

Passers-by rushed to get her to hospital.

Barseghian said that she had recognised one of her attackers and had given the police such detailed information that it should be easy to locate the men responsible but no one had been arrested so far.

In the summer, the acting head of the local office of Radio Liberty's Armenian service, Hratch Melkumian, was also punched, kicked and abused in the middle of Yerevan by unknown assailants. Again no arrests have been made.

"These incidents just don't get solved in Armenia," said Astghik Bedevian, a Radio Liberty correspondent in Yerevan. "If just one of them had been punished, the initiators of these beatings wouldn't be so brazen and arrogant."

The Yerevan police and prosecutor's office defend their record on the journalists' beatings, saying they are still actively investigating the crimes.

The deputy police chief of Yerevan, Ashot Mirijanian, told reporters his police force attached great importance to finding Baghdasarian's assailants. Asked by one journalist why violent attacks against policemen nearly always resulted in successful prosecutions, while attacks on journalists did not, Mirijanian replied, "Because a policeman fights to the end and journalists usually run away."

Sona Truzian, press secretary for the prosecutor's office conceded, "Possibly the public concerns in this regard are partially justified. We want to believe that soon there will be more discernible results."

Top Armenian officials have strongly condemned the attack on Baghdasarian.

On November 18, Armenian president Serzh Sarkisian gave instructions for the crime to be solved as quickly as possible. Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian visited the journalist in hospital. He told reporters, "We are worried by this turn of events."

However, human rights ombudsman Armen Harutiunian said he was worried about the lack of progress in these cases.

"For years we have been witnesses to violence against journalists as a result of which I have frequently called on the law enforcement agencies to be more consistent in identifying the culprits, but these crimes have not yet been solved," said Harutiunian. "These incidents are part of a very dangerous trend and are a serious threat to freedom of speech in our country.

"I am sure that if there is the political will, all other problems can be solved."

A group of journalistic organisations signed a joint letter condemning the attack on Baghdasarian, warning that those responsible for attacking journalists appear to immune from prosecution. "This impunity unties the hands of those who want to suppress freedom of speech," said the letter.

A number of journalists, students and non-governmental activists also staged an act of protest, marching with placards from the general prosecutor's office to the presidential residence.

Miklos Haraszti, representative for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, wrote a public letter to Armenian foreign minister Eduard Nalbandian about the attack on Baghdasarian, reminding him of other assaults on journalists in Armenia.

"Violence against a journalist is not a 'normal' crime because it is a blow against a basic institution of democracy, freedom of speech," said Haraszti's letter.

Lena Nazaryan is a correspondent with and a participant in IWPR's Armenian-Azerbajiani Neighbours project. IWPR Armenia editor Seda Muradian also contributed to this article.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Investigative Journalist Attacked in Yerevan

November 18, 2008

By Astghik Bedevian

A prominent Armenian investigative journalist known for his stories exposing government corruption became the target of a violent attack, which he believes is connected with his reporting.

Edik Baghdasarian, who heads the Armenian Association of Investigative Journalists and runs a Yerevan-based online magazine, Hetq, left his office in downtown Yerevan at about 8 p.m. Monday and shortly was ambushed and beaten by three unknown assailants as he was going to get into his car parked in the street, according to his own account.

Baghdasarian said the attack was an unprovoked one and the assailants did not demand anything particular from him.

`Right near the car two people attacked me and began to land heavy blows. I retaliated and we were exchanging blows. I punched one of them and since I was holding a mobile phone in my hand at that moment, the phone now has blood stains on it, presumably the blood of one of the attackers,' Baghdasarian told RFE/RL.

Then, according to Baghdasarian, a third person hit him on the head from behind, presumably with a rock or some other solid object, after which, the journalist says, he fainted.

Eventually, the three of the attackers took to flight after a security worker from a nearby construction site alerted by the squabble fired a shot into the air.

An ambulance service then administered first aid to Baghdasarian on the spot and the journalist was hospitalized with a head injury. Doctors later said the injuries were not life threatening.

Baghdasarian also says he lost a computer disc with several investigative stories that he planned for publication online. The journalist says he saw the face of at least one assailant and could recognize that person if he saw him again.

A criminal case has been initiated in connection with the incident under article 113 of the Criminal Code (inflicting bodily harm of medium gravity by a group of persons). An inquiry was ongoing, police officials said.

Baghdasarian, 49, is an award-winning independent journalist known for his in-depth investigative reporting on topics ranging from politics to crime and corruption. In his latest series of investigative reports, Baghdasarian exposed cases of abuse and corruption in Armenia's mining industry.

The latest attack became the seventh case of violence used against a media representative in Armenia this year. In August, the then acting chief of RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau Hrach Melkumian also became a victim of an apparently politically motivated attack.

The rise in violence against media in 2008 has been slammed by local and international media watchdogs and human rights groups throughout the year.

However, none of the crimes have been revealed and no one has been punished for either organizing or committing those attacks against journalists.

The attack against Baghdasarian was condemned by Armenia's main opposition alliance.

In a statement the Armenian National Congress led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, in particular, said: `This outrageous attack is more proof that the criminal regime has declared war on free speech.'

President Serzh Sarkisian's spokesman also described the violence against the journalist as `unacceptable' and `condemnable'.

`The president of the republic has given strict instructions to law-enforcement bodies to reveal the circumstances of the case and find those responsible for the attack,' Samvel Farmanian said in a statement.

Later in the day, Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian visited Baghdasarian at the hospital.

He expressed his concern over the attack against a journalist.

`The investigation is on and we are convinced that those responsible will be found within a short period of time,' Tigran Sarkisian told reporters.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Statement of RA Ombudsman Armen Harutyunyan

“On November 17 at around 8 p.m. three anonymous people attacked head of “Investigative Journalists” NGO and chief editor of “Hetq” online Edik Baghdasaryan. We have been witnessing attacks on journalists for years and I have called on the police several times to be consistent with revealing the guilty, but they have not been revealed to date. These incidents present an extreme danger and a serious threat to development of freedom of speech in the country. I call on the police once again to take all necessary measures to reveal the criminals and bring them to justice; otherwise, I believe that it would be right for the high-ranking policemen to discuss the competence of the officials holding posts in the bodies implementing operative investigations.”

Ruling Republican Party Spokesperson Condemns Free Speech Infringements
[ 18 November 2008 | 15:40 ]

At an event held at the “Ourbat Club” today, Mr. Edward Sharmazanov, the press spokesperson of Armenia’s Republican Party stated that, “Those infringements directed against freedom of speech, freedom of the press and democratic values must be punished.” The Republican Party is the dominant force in the present coalition government in Armenia. Mr. Sharmazanov’s statement alluded to yesterday’s assault on Edik Baghdasaryan a leading investigative journalist in Armenia and Chief Editor of “Hetq Online”. The Republican Party spokesperson refrained from commenting on possible motives for the attack but noted that if was because of the professional work carried out by Mr. Baghdasaryan it must be condemned.

Hetq Editor Edik Baghdasaryan to Remain Hospitalized for 2 Days
[ 18 November 2008 | 13:31 ]

Minutes ago the Saint Grigor Lusavoritch Hospital informed Hetq that the on-line paper’s Chief Editor, Edik Baghdasaryan, has been diagnosed as having received a head concussion during yesterday evening’s assault. Doctors at the hospital have decided to transfer him from the emergency unit to the patients’ ward for an additional two days of observation.

While in the hospital Mr. Baghdasaryan has already been paid visits by Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan, Healthcare Minister Harutyun Kushkyan and Khosrov Harutyunyan, President of the Christian-Democrat Party.

Award Winning Investigative Journalist Edik Baghdasaryan Hospitalized After Being Attacked

My longtime friend Edik Baghdasaryan was attacked a few hours ago by four assailants in front the HETQ office in Yerevan.

Edik has been hospitalized and is receiving treatment. His overall condition remains stable.

There is yet no information as to who the assailants were, but I can tell you that we will find them and make sure that they attack no more.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Bush Tours America To Survey Damage Caused By His Disastrous Presidency

Bush Tours America To Survey Damage Caused By His Disastrous Presidency


[08:05 pm] 03 November, 2008

Foreign partners of SIL Concern have responded to the latest scandal over the Sukiasian-owned businesses, in particular the crackdown on Bjni Company.

“I cannot believe that the authorities deny any political motives behind the crackdown on this successful company of mineral waters. The loss of this national brand will directly inflict great losses on Armenia’s shaky economy. Imagine the French government closes Evian or Perrier or the U.S. government closes Coca Cola or Pepsi,” says President of Harwal Group Harut Ohanessian.

“Reasonable people will condemn the regime’s steps which obviously intend to dissolve the successful business of their political opponents to deprive them of their property. Unfortunately, this valuable national resource is destroyed for political reasons, he says.

Remind that the SIL Concern issued a statement according to which an Armenian business group owned by a fugitive opposition-linked businessman Khacahtur Sukiasyan claimed to be heading for financial ruin because of what it described as a “political vendetta” waged by the government. The SIL Concern group, which comprises a major commercial bank and a dozen other companies (Bjni, Pares Armenia, Pizza de Roma, Sports Time, Yerevan’s Mill and Nor Shin), fell foul of the authorities after its main owner, parliament deputy Khachatur Sukiasian, publicly welcomed former President Levon Ter-Petrosian’s September 2007 return to active politics. The companies have sustained great losses.

Another Sukiasian-owned company, the exclusive distributor of Phillip Morris cigarettes in Armenia, went out of business earlier this year, saying that customs officials are refusing to process its imports on government orders. According to SIL, Phillip Morris now sells its cigarettes in the Armenian market through another firm allegedly controlled by President Serzh Sarkisian’s influential son-in-law.

Three of those companies were inspected by tax authorities and charged with evading millions of dollars in taxes late last year. Two of them, a pizza restaurant chain and a printing house, saw their chief executives arrested on corresponding charges. In a written statement, SIL accused the authorities of seeking to “destroy” the companies owned by Sukiasian and his extended family. “With this approach, the current authorities have proved one thing: that those entrepreneurs who will dare not to follow their rules of the game will be strictly and arbitrarily punished,” the statement said.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Give and Take?

So far in terms of Armenian relations with Turkey, Armenia has given 1.5 million lives and Turkey has taken control of land that legally belong to us.

This process of having normal relations with Turkey will only produce results when Turkey starts to give something that Armenia can take back.

If you ask me I would say that the process we are engaging with Turkey is needed, but not if it means that we we lay on our backs and let Turkey sniff us.


27.09.2008 14:06 GMT+04:00

/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Recent efforts to normalize relations between Turkey and neighboring Armenia are a step in the right direction, but the process has failed to produce any results other than a softening in the political rhetoric, diplomats and foreign policy analysts have indicated, a Turkish diplomat said.

"The Armenian side hasn't taken a step back. There is only a change in the rhetoric," said retired Ambassador Murat Bilhan. "Armenia should be aware that this is a give-and-take process, but it does not seem to be ready to give anything," he said, the Anatolia news agency reported.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Armenian News Network / Groong
September 24, 2008

By Garbis Kazanjian


Ara Papian discussed The Legal Basis For The Armenian Claims

Are we aware that the stipulations recorded in the Sevres treaty, as prepared by president Woodrow Wilson, are legally and still in force? Yes. And this was clarified, based on facts, by Ambassador, Historian, political analyst, Ara Papian, during a celebration on the occasion of the 17th Anniversary of the Independence of Armenia, organized by ARF "Dro" Gomideh, on Sunday Sept. 21, 2008 at the Auditorium of
Dwight-Englewood School, Englewood, New Jersey.

Mr. Papian explained that after the First World war, victorious countries, Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan mandated the president of U.S.A. Woodrow Wilson as arbitrator, to prepare a map and boundaries of Armenia. President Wilson included the following provinces, Van, Bitlis, Erzeroom and Drabison to be separated from Turkey and to make part of the Armenian Republic. Mr. Papian explained that according to International law, an arbitration has no statute of limitations, it cannot be changed or canceled. Further in the lecture, Mr. Papian mentioned that the Congress of USA, the Four Great powers and 18 allied countries approved the arbitration, including the
representatives of Turkey and the newly Independent Republic of Armenia.

Mr. Papian stressed that an arbitration, once approved officially by the two parties is final, has no time limit and no court can change and at any time, the Independent Republic of Armenia can go to International Court and request the application of the Wilsonian Arbitration and this is one reason that Turkey keeps asking that Armenia should agree that no territorial claim shall be demanded from Turkey.

Mr. Papian explained that the Lausanne Treaty is not valid, because according to International law, official representatives of both parties should sign the Treaty, otherwise the document will be considered as non-binding. He added that Armenia was not participating because at that time it was under Communist occupation. The same status applies to the Kars treaty, he explained.

Mr. Papian has studied documents from governments and countries that were involved in Armenian affairs in any role.

Born in Yerevan in 1961, Ara Papian graduated from the Department of Oriental Studies of Yerevan State University in 1984. In 1989 he completed his degree on Armenian History in Yerevan State University. In 1994 he graduated from Moscow Diplomatic Academy and in 1998, from NATO Defense College in Rome. In 1999, he completed a course in Public Diplomacy in Wilton, United Kingdom. Ara Papian's professional experience as a diplomat at the foreign ministry of Armenia started in 1991 with important positions at the Embassies in Tehran, Bucharest (Romania) and from 2000 to 2006 served as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Canada. Since 2006 he has embraced the mission of studying, lecturing, writing articles and books dedicated to the basics of Armenian rights and demands.

The organizers of the celebration of the 17th Anniversary of Independence of the Republic of Armenia, having the lecturer Mr. Papian as the main goal of the forum of a full house, had a rich cultural program including singer Ms. Ani Zargarian, singing the national Anthems of USA and Armenia and other patriotic songs, the opening remarks from the representative of "Dro" Gomideh, Miss Pauline Dostourian, performances by Arev and Yeraz folk ensambles, recitation from Sylva Gaboudikian dedicated to Ararat, by Zevart Balikjian and a band performing on "doudouk" and "tmpouk". A very successful celebration with education and pleasure for the audience.

© Copyright 2008, Armenian News Network / Groong

Monday, September 22, 2008


Hayots Ashkhar Daily
20 Sep 2008

The US Charge D'Affairs Joseph Pennington said discussions are in process regarding the involvement of an expert from America in the framework of March 1-2 developments.

`We are holding discussions regarding that issue with the Chairman of the Committee and the representatives of Armenian government and we hope we will achieve certain results.'

Prosecutor General Aghvan Hovsepyan informed a specialist having worked in New Jersey's Prosecutor's would soon arrive in Yerevan by the support of the US embassy in Armenia.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

What a joke!!!

Mr. Aghvan Hovsepyan, who our documentation shows is a key player in the trafficking of Armenian women and children is smack dab in the middle of receiving money from the U.S. in the tune of $2.709 million for a program that will include anti-trafficking work. What an f'ing joke. This reminds me of one of Hovsepyan's former investigators who was also part of the trafficking ring and landed a job at the U.N. in Yerevan which put him at the helm of the anti-trafficking program the U.N. had. To say the least and to the credit of the Department of State, the trafficker was quietly removed from the U.N.

The Department of State knows good and well that Hovsepyan is part of the trafficking ring in Armenia, as that information was provided to them back in 2005. What this means is that for the sake of U.S. foreign policy, they will once again turn a blind eye (as they seem to do too more than I would like to see) to the criminal activities of the present and past Armenian government.

Just remember, complacency in the case when children are involved is viewed as if you are one of the actual perpetrators of the crime. Shame on those who know and are now supporting it with millions of U.S. tax dollars.

Oh and for those of you who don't know, Armenia once again has found itself on Tier 2 Watch List of the State Department's 2008 Trafficking in Persons Report.


20:10 19/09/2008

The Government of the US will provide 2.709mln USD support to the Armenian Government for the implementation of some projects. Today Mr. Josef Pannington and Aghvan Hovsepyan have signed a decree on drug supervision and cooperation in legal officers' field.

Mr. Aghvan Hovsepyan said that the financial support will be invested in the development of the current field taking into account violations, migration, consultancy, trafficking, etc.

Friday, September 19, 2008


The Associated Press
September 17, 2008 Wednesday 06:01 PM GMT

The U.S. has sent an ambassador to Armenia, more than two years after the previous one had his tour of duty cut short.

The U.S. Embassy in Yerevan said Marie Yovanovitch arrived Wednesday night to take up her new post. A career diplomat, she had previously served as the U.S. ambassador in Kyrgyzstan.

The last ambassador was withdrawn in 2006 after he referred to the World War I-era killings of Armenians in Turkey as genocide, in defiance of U.S. policy.

Turkey denies the deaths constituted genocide, and the U.S. wants to avoid damaging relations with the NATO member and important strategic ally.

At her confirmation hearings, Yovanovitch explained U.S. policy but would not comment on whether she believed genocide had occurred.

Illegitimately Elected Armenian Government Waives Demands of Genocide Recognition

When the legitimacy of your power is in question, one does whatever they have to in order to buy friends that will support you when your number is up. This is what we have been seeing with our present day Armenian Government.

Prior to the presidential elections of February 19, 2008, the Armenian government had found a few ethical Senators in Washington who put their political carriers on the line in order to get the U.S. to recognize the 1915 Armenian Genocide.

Though Democratic Senators Barbara Boxer and Robert Menendez were ready to stand strong to their commitment to block the nomination of any U.S. candidate for ambassador if they refused to acknowledge the Genocide of the 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 by the Turkish Government, they waived their obligations at the request of the illegitimately elected Armenian government.

Now I’m not sure what the Armenian President is thinking these days, but when you have powerful people in Washington working for you to get recognition of a crime committed on your ancestors and similar acts have and are being committed in our lifetime by the same perpetrators, you have to ask yourself what is wrong with this picture.

All I can say is that although it looks like our Armenian President is cleaning house with punishing those who have stolen from the government fund, just remember the saying of the fish begins to smell from the head.

This getting into bed with the Turkish President and the asking the U.S. to appoint an ambassador to Armenia does not give me a warm fuzzy feeling. We are heading for some very dangerous waters, mark my words.

Marie Yovanovitch confirmed as U.S. ambassador to Armenia

by Yelena Osipova and Emil Sanamyan

Armenian Reporter
August 2, 2008

WASHINGTON – The Senate on August 1 confirmed Marie L. Yovanovitch as the next United States ambassador to Armenia. The position had been vacant since September 2006, when Ambassador John M. Evans was recalled for speaking openly about the Armenian Genocide.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee had voted on July 29 to endorse the nomination.

The administration’s previous nominee for the position, Richard Hoagland, received the committee’s endorsement in late 2006, but the consideration of his nomination by the full Senate was blocked by Senator Robert Menendez (D.-N.J.) The Bush administration resubmitted the nomination in 2007, at which time the senator once again blocked it. The administration ultimately withdrew the nomination.

The Armenian government had publicly encouraged a quick confirmation of Ms. Yovanovitch’s nomination. As a sign of the importance the Armenian government attached to this matter, Tatoul Markarian, Armenia’s ambassador to the United States, was present as the committee voted.

The administration continues to refuse to use the word genocide to characterize the Armenian Genocide. But, whereas Mr. Hoagland had initially argued that the events of 1915–17 may not fit the definition of genocide, Ms. Yovanovitch has stated repeatedly that it is up to the president to decide whether she, as ambassador, could characterize the events as genocide.

Most senators attending the committee meeting said they were still not satisfied with the administration’s position on the Genocide. In a voice vote, they nonetheless allowed the nomination of Ms. Yovanovitch to move forward. Senators cited a State Department letter issued the day of the committee vote that, one senator said, marked a “significant step forward” in the administration’s appreciation of the issue.

Sen. Boxer remains in opposition

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D.-Calif.) was the sole committee member registering a vote against confirmation. Criticizing the administration for its refusal to use the term genocide in reference to the destruction of the Armenian people in Asia Minor, she described her vote as “support for the truth.”

While acknowledging Ms. Yovanovitch’s experience and competence, Ms. Boxer said she could not vote in favor because the nominee refused to use the word genocide.

“Why can’t she just say, ‘I personally see this as genocide, but the administration does not want me to use that word. So, although in my personal view it was a genocide, I cannot call it so [officially]’?” the senator asked.

Ms. Boxer added that although she would be voting in opposition, she would take no other action to block the nomination.

Sen. Menendez notes better State Department rhetoric

Mr. Menendez, like Ms. Boxer, expressed dissatisfaction that Ms. Yovanovitch would not express her own opinion on the Armenian Genocide. He noted that when U.S. ambassadors are sworn in, they do not “say that ‘I take an oath to the President of the United States, this or any future president.’” Rather, they swear to uphold the Constitution, he noted, arguing that ambassadors should be able to express their opinions more freely when testifying before Congress.

Mr. Menendez cited a letter he had received from the State Department the day of the committee vote as a reason he was not voting against the nomination. The letter clarified testimony by Ms. Yovanovitch about a proposed State Department program to “bring archivists from Turkey and Armenia to the United States for professional training.” It said the program did not intend to “open a debate” on the facts “of the mass killings and deportations of Armenians committed by Ottoman soldiers and other Ottoman officials in 1915.” The letter of clarification, signed by Matthew A. Reynolds, acting assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, added, “We indeed hold Ottoman officials responsible for those crimes.”

Mr. Menendez said that for an administration that has frequently called for the characterization of the events of 1915 to be left to historians, this response was a “significant step forward,” encouraging him to vote in favor of the nominee.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D.-Md.) also spoke in opposition to the administration’s policy, noting that from Ms. Yovanovitch’s responses to the committee it is “clear that the nominee acknowledged that what happened [to Armenians] was genocide,” even if she was forced not to publicly use the term.

Sen. Biden thanks Armenian-Americans

In his remarks, the committee chair, Sen. Joe Biden (D.-Del.), recalled the commitments made by the State Department to work toward the improvement of Armenia-Turkey relations and to address Turkey’s genocide denial.

The committee chair said that the ultimate objective is to get Turkey to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide for all sides to move forward.

Mr. Biden praised the Armenian-American community for its position on the issue and acknowledged the role played by senators in pressing the administration.

As part of the confirmation process, Senators Biden, Boxer, Cardin, and Menendez, and fellow committee members Bob Casey (D.-Penn.), Norm Coleman (R.-Minn.), Russ Feingold (D.-Wis.), John Kerry (D.-Mass.), and Barack Obama (D.-Ill.) had pressed the State Department for answers on issues relating to the U.S. policy on the Armenian Genocide, U.S.-Armenia relations, and regional matters. (See the Armenian Reporter for July 5, 12, 19, and 26 for the full texts of the correspondence.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

US demands Russia to leave Independent Countries of South Ossetia and Abkhazia

I know what Washington is thinking, but just can't understand why they are crying foul over the presents of Russian military forces in countries that do not belong to Georgia, thus do not fall under any agreements that have been signed in the past.

Bottom line is that Russia is in the right and the US is trying to push their weight around in places they have no business doing so.

My prediction is that Russia will stand strong and the U.S. will at some point stick their tail between their legs and back off.

Losing patience, US demands Russia quit Georgia
By MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press Writer
September 10, 2008

WASHINGTON - An irritated Bush administration accused Russia on Wednesday of trying to find excuses to keep thousands of troops in Georgia in violation of a cease-fire Russia signed with the former Soviet republic last month.

Using unusually blunt language, the State Department said it was well past time for Russia to withdraw most of its soldiers from Georgia's separatist areas of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. A spokesman demanded that Russia do so now.

"These guys are at every turn trying to wiggle out of a commitment they made and that their president put his name to," spokesman Sean McCormack said. "We've seen it since August and it continues. They need to get out of Georgia and they to stop finding excuses (not) to do that."

He said statements from Russian officials that Moscow intends to keep 3,800 troops in Abkhazia and 3,800 in South Ossetia were "quite concerning."

"That, of course, would be a violation of the cease-fire that they signed in August," McCormack said. "Russia and their government and troops need to abide by their commitments, bottom line." He said the presence of Russian troops in such numbers would also violate previous agreements that allowed Russia a maximum of only 1,500 peacekeepers in each region.

Russian forces continue to occupy its neighbor's territory weeks after last month's five-day war despite the French-brokered cease-fire signed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili. Since then Russia has recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent nations over international condemnation.

Under a deal reached by French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday, Russia pledged to withdraw its forces from those zones within a month, after unarmed European Union observers are deployed. But Russia said it would maintain 7,600 troops in South Ossetia and Abkhazia for the future.

Russia has made its withdrawal pledges contingent on guarantees that Georgia will not use force to try to regain control of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The puppet masters behind Georgia President Saakashvili

By F. William Engdahl
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Aug 29, 2008, 00:26

The controversy over the Georgian surprise military attacks on South Ossetia and Abkhazia on 8.8.08 makes a closer look at the controversial Georgian President and his puppet masters important. An examination shows 41-year-old Mikheil Saakashvili to be a ruthless and corrupt totalitarian who is tied to not only the US NATO establishment, but also to the Israeli military and intelligence establishment.

The famous ‘Rose Revolution of November 2003 that forced the ageing Edouard Shevardnadze from power and swept the then 36-year-old US university graduate into power was run and financed by the US State Department, the Soros Foundations, and agencies tied to the Pentagon and US intelligence community.

Mikheil Saakashvili was deliberately placed in power in one of the most sophisticated US regime change operations, using ostensibly private NGOs (non-governmental organizations) to create an atmosphere of popular protest against the existing regime of former Soviet Foreign Minister Edouard Shevardnadze, who was no longer useful to Washington when he began to make a deal with Moscow over energy pipelines and privatizations.

Saakashvili was brought to power in a US-engineered coup run on the ground by US-funded NGOs, in an application of a new method of US destabilization of regimes it20considered hostile to its foreign policy agenda. The November 24, 2003, Wall Street Journal explicitly credited the toppling of Shevardnadze’s regime to the operations of “a raft of non-governmental organizations . . . supported by American and other
Western foundations.” These NGOs, said the Journal, had “spawned a class of young, English-speaking intellectuals hungry for pro-Western reforms” who were instrumental laying the groundwork for a bloodless coup.

Coup by NGO

But there is more. The NGOs were coordinated by the US Ambassador to Georgia, Richard Miles, who had just arrived in Tbilisi fresh from success in orchestrating the CIA-backed toppling of Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade, using the same NGOs. Miles, who is believed to be an undercover intelligence specialist, supervised the Saakashvili coup.

It involved US billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Georgia Foundation. It involved the Washington-based Freedom House whose chairman was former CIA chief James Woolsey. It involved generous financing from the US Congress-financed National Endowment for Democracy, an agency created by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s to “do privately what the CIA used to do,” namely coups against regimes the US government finds unfriendly.

George Soros’ foundations have been forced to leave numerous eastern European countries, including Russia, as well as China after the 1989 student Tiananmen Square uprising. Soros is also the financier together with the US State Department of Human Rights Watch, a US-based and run propaganda arm of the entire NGO apparatus of regime coups such as Georgia and Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution. Some analysts believe Soros is a high-level operative of the US State Department or intelligence services using his private foundations as cover.

The US State Department funded the Georgia Liberty Institute headed by Saakashvili, the US approved candidate to succeed the no-longer cooperative Shevardnadze. The Liberty Institute in turn created “Kmara!” which translates to “Enough!” According to a BBC report at the time, Kmara! was organized in the spring of 2003, when Saakashvili along with hand-picked Georgia student activists were paid by the Soros Foundation to go to Belgrade to learn from the US-financed Otpor activists that toppled Milosevic. They were trained in Gene Sharp’s “non-violence as a method of warfare” by the Belgrade Center for Nonviolent Resistance.

Saakashvili as mafioso president

Once he was in place in January 2004 as Georgia’s new president, Saakashvili proceeded to pack the regime with his cronies and kinsmen. The death of Zurab Zhvania, his prime minister, in February 2005 remains a mystery. The official version -- poisoning by a faulty gas heater -- was adopted by American FBI investigators within two weeks of the Zhvania's death. That has never seemed credible to those familiar with Georgia’s gangland slayings, crime, and other manifestations of social decay. Zhvania’s death was followed closely by a functionary of the premier’s apparat, Georgi Khelashvili, who allegedly shot himself the day after his chief’s demise. The head of Zhvania’s research staff was later found dead as well.

Figures allied with Saakashvili reportedly had a hand in the premier’s death. Russian journalist Marina Perevozkina quoted Gia Khurashvili, a Georgian economist. Prior to the fatal incident, Mr. Khurashvili had published an article in Resonans newspaper opposing the privatization and sale of Georgia’s main gas pipeline. Ten days before the prime minister’s body was found, Khurashvili was attacked and his editor-in-chief -- citing pressure from ‘security service’ figures he refused to name -- issued him a warning.

The late premier’s position on the pipeline issue was believed the direct reason for the murder of Zhvania. Zhvania’s brother, Georgi, also told Perevozkina that not long before Zhvania’s death he received a warning that someone was preparing to kill his brother. Saakashvili was reportedly livid when the US State Department invited Zhvania to Washington to win a Freedom Medal from the US Government’s National Democratic Institute. Saakashvili tolerates no rivals for power it seems.

Saakashvili, who cleverly marketed himself as “anti-corruption,” appointed several of his family members to lucrative posts in government, giving one of his brothers a position as chief adviser on domestic issues to the Baku-Ceyhan Pipeline project, backed by British Petroleum and other oil multinationals.

Since coming to power in 2004 with US aid, Saakashvili has led a policy of large-scale arrests, imprisonment, torture and deepened corruption. Saakashvili has presided over the creation of a de facto one-party state, with a dummy opposition occupying a tiny portion of seats in the parliament, and this public servant is building a Ceaucescu-style palace for himself on the outskirts of Tbilisi. According to the magazine, Civil Georgia (Mar. 22, 2004), until 2005, the salaries of Saakashvili and many of his ministers were reportedly paid by the NGO network of New York-based currency speculator Soros -- along with the United Nations Development Program.

Israeli and US military train Georgian military

The current military assault on South Ossetia and Abkhazia, in violation of Saakashvili’s pledge to seek a diplomatic not military solution to the territorial disputes, is backed by US and Israeli military “advisers.” Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported that on August 10 Georgian Minister of Reintegration Temur Yakobshvili “praised the Israel Defense Forces for its role in training Georgian troops and said Israel should be proud of its military might, in an interview with Army Radio. ‘Israel should be proud of its military which trained Georgian soldiers,’ Yakobashvili told Army Radio in Hebrew, referring to a private Israeli group Georgia had hired.’”

One of the targets of Russian bombs near Tbilisi was, according to, “a Georgian military plant in which Israeli experts are upgrading jet fighters for the Georgian military . . . Russian fighter jets bombed runways inside the plant, located near Tbilisi, where Israeli security firm Elbit is in charge of upgrading Georgian SU-25 jets.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, also a candidate to succeed ousted Israeli Prime Minister Olmert, proclaimed on August 10 that “Israel recognizes Georgia’s territorial integrity,” code for saying it backs Georgia’s attempt to take South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

The reported 1,000 Israeli military advisers in Georgia were not alone. On July 15, Reuters news wire carried the following report: “VAZIANI, Georgia -- One thousand U.S. troops began a military training exercise called ‘Immediate Response 2008,’ in Georgia on Tuesday against a backdrop of growing friction between Georgia and neighboring Russia. The two-week exercise was taking place at the Vaziani military base near the capital, Tbilisi, which was a Russian air force base until Russian forces withdrew at the start of this decade under a European arms reduction agreement . . . Georgia has a 2,000-strong contingent supporting the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, and Washington provides training and equipment to the Georgian military. The United States is an ally of Georgia and has irritated Russia by backing Tbilisi’s bid to join the NATO military alliance . . . ‘The main purpose of these exercises is to increase the cooperation and partnership between U.S. and Georgian forces,’ Brig. Gen. William B. Garrett, commander of the U.S. military’s Southern European Task Force, told reporters.”

With Russia openly backing and training the indigenous military in South Ossetia and Abkhazia to maintain Russian presence in the region, especially since the US-backed pro-NATO Saakashvili regime took power in 2004, the Caucasus is rapidly coming to resemble Spain in the Civil War from 1936-1939, where the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and others poured money and weapons and volunteers into Spain in a devastating war that was a precursor to the Second World War.

In a curious footnote to the actual launch of military fighting on the opening day of the Olympics when Putin, George W. Bush and many world leaders were far away in Beijing, is a report in by Gl Ronen, stating that “The Georgian move against South Ossetia was motivated by political considerations having to do with Israel and Iran, according to Nfc. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili decided to assert control over the breakaway region in order to force Israel to reconsider its decision to cut back its support for Georgia’s military.”

Ronen added, “Russian and Georgian media reported several days ago that Israel decided to stop its support for Georgia after Moscow made it clear to Jerusalem and Washington that Russia would respond to continued aid for Georgia by selling advanced anti-aircraft systems to Syria and Iran.” Israel plans to get oil and gas from the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline from the Caspian.

Although as of this writing Russian President Medvedev has announced Russia is halting its military response against Georgian targets, the situation is anything but stable. The insistence of Washington in bringing Georgia into its geopolitical sphere and backing an unstable regime around Mikheil Saakashvili may well have been the straw which broke the Russian camel’s patience if not his back.

Whether oil pipeline disputes or Russian challenges to Israel are the proximate trigger for Saakashvili’s dangerous game, it is clear that the volatile Georgian and his puppet masters may have entered a game where no one will be able to control the outcome.

F. William Engdahl is author of A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order (Pluto Press), and Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation ( This essay is adapted from a book he has just completed, titled Full Spectrum Dominance: The Geopolitical Agenda Behind Washington’s Global Military Buildup (release date estimated Autumn 2008). He may be contacted through his website,